You are already hearing it: “Alexa, search for hotels under $500 a dollar a night in New York.” It’s early days in the world of booking travel using just your voice, but many industry watchers say you will soon use it for every aspect of travel planning. I’m not so sure. It’s similar to how a fascination with space travel constantly fuels conversations about when you’ll see the first space station hotel and who’s going to pioneer–and profit–from building hotels on Mars.
The world of travel lends itself to the whimsy of the most fertile of imaginations. Whilst some of the above will shape travel no doubt, it’s also clear that many companies are looking to the past for inspiration. There are some long established principles that form the DNA of why people like to travel that will be key in influencing how you get from point A to point B in 2018.
Here are three developments you’ll see in 2018 that might seem like a blast from the past.
1. Embracing the best of tradition.
The hot new travel format for Millennials in 2018? Slow travel, such as cruising, will be reenergized and reimagined by brands targeting Millennial travelers. Enter Virgin Voyages and U by Uniworld, travel concepts tearing apart the traditional cruise model and re-inventing it for a younger, experience-hungry traveler. The principle remains the same – take to the water – but the difference is highly experiential, transformative offerings. Virgin Voyages will be sans-children and “adult by design,” and is designed with a nod to the glamour of traditional cruise ships, inspiring guests to traverse every nook and cranny of the boat.
2. Storytelling is still key
For all the technological developments that enable people, platforms, and brands to showcase the best of travel, what still matters most is the story. From messages in bottles to battered notebooks full of adventures taken, travel has always been about storytelling. That need is more important than ever, so look out for new developments that allow people and companies to bring their stories to life in more engaging ways than ever before. Companies like Wirewax are making inspiring travel video content truly interactive and shoppable, and with the increased access of Augmented Reality, more destinations will be brought to life in engaging and interactive ways. Streets and landscapes will come alive on your screen as you journey through them. Another example of forward thinkers looking to the past, see Airbnb’s first foray into its own branded apartments. The pioneer of the sharing economy is now getting into brick and mortar ownership.
3. Human connection still matters
Ten years ago, it was supposedly game over for the role of humans in the travel world; the view was that the human connection, that personal insight, would become obsolete. Not so. Pioneering companies in the tech world are recognizing the benefit of having that human touch in all aspects of the travel process. The benefits of human connection as enhancing the experience within the travel world is being recognized. From Kayak’s founder celebrating the need for a blend of AI and human insight in its travel platform Lola, to the continued growth of organizations that bring travel agents and suppliers together, such as Matthew Upchurch’s Virtuoso. For all the technological advancements, the trend is a recognition that you will never be able to substitute human insight and intuition for inspiring and creating transformative travel experiences. Watch out for more businesses celebrating the perfect blend of tech and human connection in 2018.